Establish Your Credibility

So far, this page is specific to XP. How about some advice for why, when, and how you would establish credibility in general?

That's because this was originally written for AdoptingXpPatternLanguage. Establishing credibility in general depends on the context. There's a book I'm reading on marketing called GettingBusinessToComeToYou which has some good advice on establishing credibility, which I believe would apply to the general case.

Credibility is an important part of selling an idea. People don't want to listen to a spiel on XP from somebody who has read the book but never applied any of the practices. And even if you yourself have tried all the practices, this is often still not enough to convince some people that you know what you're talking about. Like it or not, sometimes you have to put in extra effort to prove your credibility. This is aggravated if you've never been able to do a professional project that used AllOfXp at once.

This phenomenon is similar to that of ignoring 'crack-pot' ideas (mind-reading and the like) until they've made it in to peer-reviewed journals.


Win them over with specific examples of things that you've done related to XP on a larger scale (more than just reading books). E.g. "Well, I've never done AllOfXp, but I organized the local XpUsersGroup?, I've lectured on the XP practices, and I ran an ExtremeHour at a local programming group."

It's not so much on how to build your personal reputation, but how to establish your credibility with XP even if you have never done AllOfXp.

It's human nature to attribute more credibility to someone who was able to present an idea in front of an audience. If you've organized a user group or given some kind of a presentation, that can go a long way to getting XP adopted in your organization.


This presumes that you really do have experience with the practices of XP. Never be dishonest about your experience and don't preach what you don't practice, otherwise this practice will become an AntiPattern.

This is what is wrong with methodologists in the first place. How can someone lecture on a methodology if they've never tried it? Indeed, when you encounter a methodology fanatic who's started doing all the stuff you've described without ever having tried it, the correct response is to SetTheBozoBit and move on.


Here are some things that would make a positive impression on me: Discussion

This one originated at a TorontoXpUsersGroup meeting when MikeBowler explained that you do not necessarily need experience doing AllOfXp if you can cite specific things you've done to show your competence in it. Interestingly, this is a very general pattern and applies to much more than just XP. -- RobHarwood

Both myself and MikeBowler have had experience with all the practices outside of the XP buzz-word. Mike has even done PairProgramming while at IBM even though he did not know about XP at that point in time. -- BryanZarnett

The standard line of XP pundits is that if you aren't doing AllOfXp, you aren't doing XP. I'm not just talking about IfXpIsntWorkingYoureNotDoingXp, but about previous comments (by RonJeffries) about how when C3 stopped doing certain practices extremely they felt they were worse off. Consequently, all you are showing here is that you don't really understand XP qua XP. Personally I think that's ok, but it's not from an "XP world" point of view. -- SunirShah

Actually, we understand it perfectly on this point. We want to do AllOfXp because then we can say we've "done XP". In the meantime, we try to establish our credibility. But thanks for the brief summary of the AllOfXp problem; I'll add it to that page. -- RobHarwood

Now, consider the alternative approach. You have obviously read enough of XP to think it's worth doing. Don't ask for permission (that always gets a "no"), but introduce practices as necessary to solve real existing problems. Otherwise, YouArentGonnaNeedIt. Sure, you might not end up with XP, but that's probably a good thing. The practices you employ must reflect the situation on the ground, not just something you read in a book. -- SunirShah

This strikes me as an AntiPattern. If someone told me that they have done all kinds of talking and organizing, but haven't actually tried any of the ExtremeProgramming practices, I'd flip the Bozo bit on them and go on. If, on the other hand, they told me that they've tried every practice they can on their own, like UnitTesting and refactoring, and found that they work in practice, I'd take it as a good indication that the next step is to try some of the team practices, to see if they work too.

I agree, if an individual tried to promote something without having done any of the practices this would indicate some BadMojo?. This is a far too common occurrence in the industry. To cite a typical example in the non-XP world, many people talk about Scalability and Clustering of Java application servers but very few have ever done this at all. Someone can still promote XP if they have never done AllOfXp before, just as long as they have done the individual XP practices. The practices are more important than the name. -- BryanZarnett

If you can't do all the practices, then do the ones you can, and demonstrate that they work better than the disorganized chaos that is typical of most projects.

I get the impression that someone at the TorontoXpUsersGroup had the the needs of the user group primarily in mind. -- JeffGrigg

Yes, this is true. Several people at the group were looking for ways to get XP adopted at their organizations and were running into frustration when simply demonstrating the individual practices was not enough to motivate management.

Actually, if you want to be fair, I don't think the "XP world" as you call it are particularly honest promoters either. See RunawayReligion, IfXpIsntWorkingYoureNotDoingXp. Note that they never ask someone who is successfully using XP whether they are really using XP. Rule: Never listen to someone with a buzzword. Consequently, to EstablishYourCredibility, don't use the term XP. Only talk about the particular methods you've found in XP will improve the situation on the ground. (Does this sound reasonable?) -- ss

I don't know. There are so many buzz words flying around this industry that it seems next to impossible to talk about software development at all without hearing at least two. -- RobHarwood

Exactly. Methodology is an evil business. Only a few methodologists exist that are willing to help you solve your problems versus shilling some snake oil they've bottled. The modern day methodologist is similar to an apothecary of yore. -- SunirShah

Sunir, your cynicism and skepticism is refreshing and eye-opening, but I will naively maintain my faith until I've tried it myself. Thanks for your criticism of this idea. -- RobHarwood

That is exactly the right thing to do. Try it yourself, evaluate it in your situation, learn from it. That's not listening to buzzwords, but doing something tangible. -- SunirShah

And see The PrincipleOfDispassionateMethodology.

I've seen similar issues with the RationalUnifiedProcess: If you claim to be doing RUP and your project is successful, no-one looks under the covers; they just take it as evidence that RUP is a good thing. I see a lot of projects out there that claim to be doing RUP, but aren't really - if you take a close and skeptical look at their actual practices. -- JeffGrigg

CategoryPattern | CategoryExtremeProgramming | CategoryAdoptingXp

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